Spring is a fantastic time of year to visit east Perthshire and west Angus – and the Cateran Ecomuseum has a range of activities and suggestions for things to do over the Easter holidays to help you explore this very special part of the world.
Thanks to Paths for All and Inspiring Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Rural and Island Communities Idea into Action (RICIA) fund, we have more than 20 free guided walks and cycle rides lined up over the coming weeks as part of our innovative Travel For All Our Tomorrows project.
Travel For All Our Tomorrows offers a number of active travel for leisure and regenerative tourism experiences in the Cateran Ecomuseum area, co-designed with local communities and led by local people, and highlighting the area’s position as one of Scotland’s premier car-free holiday destinations.
Cycling along country lanes in 1933, photo Laing Collection
Still to come in the next few weeks is the second of two ‘gravel bike gallivants’ along the banks of the River Ericht in Blairgowrie exploring the wildlife and landscapes of the river. This session takes place on Saturday, April 8.
And there will also be two ‘road bike rambles’ around the Hill of Alyth on Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, May 28. Take in one of the many prehistoric standing stones in the area, cycling through Bealach Gabráin – the narrow pass between the Hill of Loyal and the famous Iron Age fort of Barry Hill – and learn about some of the heritage, myths and legends of the area as you go.
Then on Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, June 4, road bikers can enjoy an interesting and informative cycle tour of the shores of Loch of Lintrathen.
Meanwhile, walkers and keen historians will have a chance to join local archaeologist Dr Gavin Lindsay on Saturday, April 29, as he explores a short stretch of the Cateran Trail, hunting for evidence of the farming settlements that once filled Glenshee.
Also in Glenshee, on Sunday, May 7, storyteller Lindsey Gibb will recount the Story of Diarmuid and Gráinne, which is linked to a stone circle in the glen, and a new story also linked to the legend of the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill – The Awakening – that Lindsey created in 2021 especially for the temporary 9,000 sqm installation of a giant hand sited on the Coire Lairige on the far side of the Spittal, co-designed by artists Martin McGuinness and Fraser Gray to coincide with COP26.
Lyndsey Gibb telling a story at Diarmuid’s Grave, Photo Clare Cooper
And on Saturday, May 27, Dr Gavin Lindsay will lead a walk around the remains of the impressive fort on Barry Hill, near Alyth, one of the best preserved examples of an enclosed hill top settlement in Scotland that is linked to another great world myth – King Arthur.
You can find out more about all the events and book your place on our events page here.
We’re also working with local groups The Alyth River Keepers and Bioregioning Tayside, and The Conservation Volunteers on a new survey of the Alyth Burn catchment this spring. So far we have installed a number of camera traps to record wildlife, we’ve planted trees and we’re testing the quality of the water.
There’s still plenty of time to get involved, with a tree and plant survey planned for Saturday April 1, starting at 10am, a talk about what we have found so far on the evening of April 6 in Alyth and a geomorphology walk planned at Bamff Wildland on Sunday, April 16 – email [email protected] to find out more.
A Pine Marten caught on camera trap as part of the survey
If you can’t make any of these events but would still like to explore the region, we also have a number of natural and cultural heritage-based itineraries that you can follow yourself and use to discover more about what is on our doorstep, rather than increasing our carbon footprint by travelling further afield.
All the itineraries have been designed by local people who are passionate about sharing their love for and knowledge of this area and all it has to offer, as well as their enthusiasm for active travel.
Go back some 20,000 years and find out about the last glaciers in Glenshee or find out more about Blairgowrie’s bustling textile mills during the Industrial Revolution, the technological innovations that were made in them and the challenges that the mill owners and their workers faced.
Take a stroll around the traditional market town of Alyth and find out more about its 1000-year history, enjoy a wander through the ancient woodland along Alyth Burn in the Den O’Alyth, or a short hike up Alyth Hill for spectacular views.
There are also suggested walking tours in and around Kirkmichael and Glenisla, as well as Bamff Estate, one of Scotland’s newest rewilding projects.
And there are several suggested itineraries for cyclists as well, with routes for both road bikes and mountain bikes. The road routes range in length from an 8km cycle through Glenisla to a 35km ‘three towns’ route between Alyth, Blairgowrie and Rattray and Coupar Angus, and the 109 km Cateran Gran Fondo.
On the Gran Fondo route, photo Markus Stitz
There are gravel bike routes to suit different levels of experience and ability as well, with gentler trails taking in Alyth Hill and Bamff Wildland, and Glenisla and Kilry, while the Monega Pass trail – a world-class mountain bike ride on two ridges in the southern Cairngorms National Park – is one for the more experienced mountain bikers!
Exploring an area on foot or by bike – and travelling slowly – is a great way to take in amazing landscapes and discover the extraordinary heritage and stories of a place along the way, really getting to know our communities and everything our place has to offer.
So this spring, walk this way or get on your bike and travel from deep time to our time, and find out more about the wonderful area we live in and love.